Tips for First-Time Pet Owners


More advice from our vets for first-time pet owners:

At Gaia Veterinary Centre, we strongly encourage you to adopt animals! Here are some great reasons why.

Okay, that said, read on.

1) Research Breeds & Their Temperaments

Find out about the breed you are adopting to get an idea of typical temperament and activity level. This prepares you and your family on what to expect.

Dogs and cats are often bred for their physical attributes as well as temperaments. So this is one of the rare times we’d say that breed-specific stereotypes are good to prepare you for the pet, and if he or she will fit into your lifestyle.

Jack Russells are high-energy dogs that need loads of activity time

Do be aware that the stereotypes are not indicators of your potential pet’s actual temperament. The knowledge simply prepares you for it, e.g. typical Jack Russells tend to be excitable and high-energy. This means you should be ready to put in more time for exercise sessions and space to jump about.

On the flip side, you may have an atypical pet e.g. a chill Jack Russell (rare, but they may be out there). That’s okay too! At least you can now Netflix and chill-lax with her instead of regular outdoor activities.

Working dog breeds tend to need a lot of exercise, otherwise they'd get bored with a lot of pent-up energy. This makes them more disruptive especially in a smaller home environment. Golden Retrievers, terriers etc. are high-energy dog breeds and require you to commit to regular sessions of activity.

If you are adopting cats in Singapore, you can expect to get domestic shorthair cats most of the time. It is hard to classify them by characteristics. Just make sure they are sterilised and pet-proof your home, so your cat will not fall out from your apartment windows.

2) Research Breed-specific Genetic Predispositions

Burmese cats can have lovely temperaments but they are genetically predisposed for diabetes compared to other breeds. Diabetes need long term management and more efforts on the owner’s part.

British shorthairs are brachycephalic animals and need extra care

Pugs and British/Exotic Shorthairs are brachycephalic animals and need extra care. These tend to have breathing issues and overheat very easily in our local climate.

Instagram-darlings like Dachshunds and Munchkins are bred to have short legs. This makes them prone to conditions such as Osteoarthritis and Lordosis.

Osteoarthritis is a disease where the joint cartilage & underlying bone breaks down. While, Lordosis is a condition where the spine curves inwards too much.

Singapore Specials tend to be shy initially. So handle them gently and provide lots of opportunities for them to socialise with people, strangers, other dogs or animals etc.

3) Make No Assumptions About Mixed Breeds

Labradoodles don’t come out the same way every time. Some aren’t even hypoallergenic.

A mixed breed will not definitely adopt the ‘preferred’ traits from their parents. This is a common assumption and misconception.

E.g. Labradoodles are not guaranteed to inherit the hypoallergenic Poodle coat.

We have seen owners forced to give up their dogs because a child or family member is allergic to them.

Maine Coon cats can get big

4) Size Does Matter

Find out the full-grown size of your potential pet, e.g. Maine Coon cats can get very large. You should prepare bigger beds or space for them even though they may look small now. This is crucial in Singapore where most homes have limited space, which prove challenging for larger pets to thrive.

5) Taken Any Shots Yet?

Aside from checking if your potential pet is

You should also check the timeline of vaccinations, tests and frequency of preventive medication given.

If not, come to Gaia Vets for a blood test to determine if your adopted pet has any of these issues.

6) Have Chat With The Vet!

See your vet for regular pet health checks. Vets are great resources to consult and can help you make an informed decision before you settle on the type of pet that's suitable for you and your lifestyle (Cat or dog? Hamsters or gerbils?).

So book a consult with us today!

Lastly, see this super useful checklist to make sure you are ready to be a pet owner!